Behind the Scenes: Rosé of Pinot Noir Debut

Imagery is key when launching a new product and we knew the best person to help capture the essence of Layer Cake’s new Rosé of Pinot Noir: food and lifestyle photographer Matt Armendariz.

We flew down and spent two days in his naturally lit, loft-style photo studio in Long Beach, CA. We were graced with his talent, props, equipment and stylists to help us achieve the perfect shot for our upcoming launch. The goal was to make the wine look as good as it tastes. We succeeded.

Few know just how much it takes to get the perfect shot, especially one as important as this for our new product release. For this, we were extremely grateful to have Matt’s expertise. Once we were happy the the final shot, it was time to bring the ad to life.

That’s when we turned to Zentiv creative agency in Santa Rosa, CA to help the ad jump off the page. You can see our beautiful new ad in the latest editions of Wine Spectator, Food & WineWine & Spirits, Wine Enthusiast, Sunset and many more. We believe it captures the essence of the wine, and are excited to share it with you all. Cheers.

Wine and Food Pairings for Your Home Brunch

Brunch has gained a lot of popularity in the past few years, and for good reason. Between the upscale food and the tasty cocktails, brunch has everything you need to have a truly relaxing weekend. Many restaurants and wineries have started offering special brunch menus on weekend mornings. But sometimes, you don’t feel like going out. For those days that you want the comfort of your own home, but still want a relaxing brunch with friends, we have some brunch hosting tips for you!

Plan a Theme

Every meal is better with a theme, especially when entertaining! Choose a common element to tie your brunch together. You could choose a region-inspired brunch, serving dishes from places like Italy or New Orleans, and picking décor and music to match.

Or maybe you want a food theme! Try a veggie-only brunch, or pick a main entrée dish and choose sides and drinks to match!

Other themes could include colors, time periods, or even pop culture references. The sky is your limit! Choosing a theme makes it easier for everyone to pitch in while still having a cohesive brunch meal. This way your brunch will be a team effort and no one person will have to do all the work. More fun for everyone!

Think about Prep

If you want your brunch to run smoothly, think about the flow of traffic between food prep and food consumption. Prep as much of your meal as possible before your guests arrive. Put baked goods in the oven as your guests arrive, to be enjoyed after your first drinks.

Create a station for light food and drink prep. If you’re looking for maximum convenience, look at these wine tasting centers that store wine bottles, glasses, and have counter-space for drink prep. With drawers to store your bottle opener and silverware, you can make this your brunch supply station and be ready for brunch any time! Some even have room for seating and double as a table!

Pair Fantastic Food with Wonderful Wine

Now for what you’re really here for: the food! Here are some ideas to get you started planning your brunch meal:

  • Flatbread is a great finger food and easy to pair with other dishes. Try some simple herbs, smoked salmon and prosciutto on grilled flatbread. It’d go great with Layer Cake Chardonnay or a crisp, Sauvignon Blanc to balance out the salt in the smoked salmon.
  • Want your brunch to have fresh, homegrown food? Plan ahead and plant a pesto garden! Then all your brunches can have a lovely pesto for pizza, pasta, flatbread, or bruschetta!
  • Pair a French Toast (or as the French call it, Pain Perdu) with a homemade berry jam and the fruity Layer Cake Cabernet Sauvignon.
  • Looking to add some whimsy to your meal? Check out this A-Z guide to edible flowers. There are recipes for rose jam, yucca hash, and more! You can even make your own Dandelion Wine as an after-brunch palate cleanser. Edible flowers are an easy and unique addition to any meal, more information can be found at Sharie’s Berries Guide to Edible Flowers as well.
  • Stock up on your favorite Champagne or sparkling wine and some fresh citrus juices (orange, grapefruit, tangerine, etc.) for a low-maintenance mimosa bar!
  • Want to give your guests an option with a little zing? Try these Buttermilk and Sharp Cheddar Biscuits with Brown Sugar Cured Ham & Pepper Jelly.

These are just a few fun ideas for your next wine-centric brunch with close friends and family. What’s your favorite brunch pairing? Share in the comments!

Submitted by Layer Cake Wines fan, Jeriann Watkins

Where Grapes Grow from Stones

You can search high and low for a dull story, a bland angle, in the Layer Cake Wine world and you will undoubtedly come up empty. In the case of our Argentinian Malbec, or Sea of Stones blend, you’d be looking high, in terms of altitude that is.

The Sea of Stones vineyard is where we grow and make our Malbec, as well as Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Petit Verdot, all varietals found in the Sea of Stones blend.  At 3,000 feet above sea level. Not technically a very high altitude, but when it comes to wine production, it is one of the highest.

Located adjacent to the Mendoza River in Argentina, the terrain is a product of a time long, long ago. During the post ice age melt, the Mendoza River swelled to over five miles wide, as the melt water slowed, it left behind a layer of cobblestones, gravel and soil hundreds of feet deep. The entire ground surface of the area is cobblestones, as far as the eye can see, a Sea of Stones.

Perhaps it is the history of the land that makes the wine taste so good. Or it could be the painstaking care with which the grapes are allowed to ripen fully on the vine, and then harvested, de-stemmed and sorted, all by hand. Whatever the reason, when settling in with a glass of Malbec or Sea of Stones, find some quiet time to enjoy the story in your glass.

The Kings of Cheese

One’s head can quickly spin out of control when it comes to planning the ideal wine and cheese paring. The possibilities and combinations joining these two iconic culinary items into joyful bliss are endless.  While pairing white wine and cheese seems to be the easy ‘out’ for pairings, selecting the right red wine and cheese pairing is a bit more of a challenge. We’re here to help with some of the basics to get you started on the path to red wine and cheese pairings that will blow your mind.

While not written in stone, a simple guideline to use while searching out cheese is to start with your wine of choice. Knowing the style and flavor profile of the wine is the key and first step to a great paring. For instance, red wines with alcohol levels above 14.5% are big, bold and more intensely flavored – making your pairing choice very different than it would be for a soft, low-alcohol Pinot Noir.

A new-found favorite of mine for the warmer months is Layer Cake Rose’ of Pinot Noir (13.2% alc), with aromas of passionfruit, pink grapefruit and dried rose petals giving way to flavors of guava and field-ripened strawberries, this style of wine cries out for fresh, soft cheeses. Think along the lines of Ricotta, Mozzarella, Burrata, or Feta to name a few.

If you are a fan of semi-hard, medium-aged cheeses such as Havarti, Edam, Jarlsberg, Manchego and ‘nutty’ cow cheeses, then your focus should be pointed toward wines such as Primitivo and Pinot Noir. If you’re up to surprise a few people and catch them off guard, Halloumi is a perfect blend of goat and sheep’s milk, ideal for grilling. Yes, you can grill this cheese.

Let’s not forget about our stinky cheeses such as, Morbier, Taleggio which match up with Pinot Noir as well.

Making the jump into the big, bold world of Cabernet Sauvignon directs one to harder cheeses, those with nutty, salty flavor profiles. Here I like to focus on aged cheeses (1-yr minimum), since their water content is low, allowing flavors to concentrate, increasing the flavor profiles and fat content.  Look for Cheddar, Gouda, Parmesan-Reggiano and others made with cow’s milk.

Don’t forget about Blue Cheese! I have found that their stronger pungency at times can be overwhelming with red wines.  Those too strong in flavor can bring about a metallic taste in the wine. But, younger and milder blue cheese with hints of sweetness will do quite well.  A favorite of mine is Caveman Blue from Rogue Creamery.

One last thing to keep in mind–temperature of both the wine and the cheese. For the red wine look to keep between 60°-65° degrees, and for the cheese in ambient room temperatures, it should be allowed to set out 30-60 minutes before serving.

Remember, wine and cheese parings can be simple and easy no matter the occasion. It is the quality time with family and friends that is the important factor and makes the time together memorable.

Submitted by Executive Chef, Michael Laukert

Cooking a La Parrilla

Fire. According to some mythologies, it was stolen from the Gods and given to mortals where it played a pivotal role in our evolution. It might not be a big stretch to imagine the thief was an Argentine because of their mastery of fire, especially in cooking – and especially with a magical, yet simple device known as the parrilla.

Commonly traced to the gauchos – the Argentine cowboys who traverse the vast, windswept plains of Patagonia – the parrilla consists of a metal grate placed over a bed of hot wood coals. Simple, eh?

Well, it’s the fine art of manipulating those coals to cook anything from beef to pork to veggies to cheese that separates the amateurs from the real-deal, bad-ass ‘parrilladors’.

And how is the parrilla different from the good ol’ American barbecue? Well, it’s like taming a lion versus a mouse.

On a parrilla, you don’t cook over fire, you cook over the coals produced by a fire. This creates an even bed of heat which slow cooks your fare without charbroiling it, all while adding a distinct hint of the wood, ideally a hard wood, that you’re burning. And unlike the barbecue, where you set the fire and move around the stuff you’re cooking with the parrilla you move the coals around to get any level of heat you desire.

You can build a simple yet amazingly effective parrilla of your own with some heat-resistant cement blocks or bricks, a metal grill and a flat, fireproof surface.

Create a three-sided structure with your blocks and fit the grill about 6-10 inches above the ground or surface. Make a fire station that allows the coals from the wood (and possibly a bit of charcoal) to fall out the bottom so that you can extract them with a metal scoop, tongs, or shovel. Spread the coals under the grill in an even manner, allow the grill to heat up, and lay your fare on top.

And of course, your foray into Argentinian cooking will be much more enjoyable when paired with a bottle of Malbec.

Other stories and recipes from our journeys can be found in the One True Vine Journal 001. You can purchase a copy here: